China sacks 3 senior rail officials after crash

08:17, July 25, 2011      

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Two cranes pick up the first carriage of train D301 under the bridge in Wenzhou around 3pm on Sunday. Photo: Cai Xianmin/GT

Chinese authorities decided to sack three senior railway officials Sunday following the fatal crash between two express trains Saturday night that killed at least 35 people and wounded up to 200.

The head of the Shanghai Railway Bureau, directly under the administration of the Ministry of Railways, was sacked, together with one of his deputies and the bureau’s Communist Party chief, said a statement on the Ministry’s website.

The three officials will also be subject to further investigation for possible dereliction of duty, the statement said.

"As leaders ... they should take ultimate responsibility for the main cause of the accident," Railways Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping told a packed news conference in Wenzhou.

To sooth public anger, the spokesperson delivered delievered an apology late Sunday. Wang also expressed condolences to the victims and bereaved families.

The accident occurred at about 8:30 pm Saturday on a viaduct near the city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang when train D301 rear-ended D3115. The first four cars of the moving train fell off the viaduct onto the ground below. The last two cars of the stalled train derailed.

A total of 132 people are still being treated in hospital, Wang said. Up to 52 people who suffered slight injuries had been discharged from hospital.

Twelve people remain in critical condition, said Cheng Jinguo, deputy head of the Wenzhou health bureau.

Initial investigations found out that the power failure knocked out an electronic safety system that was designed to alert trains about stalled locomotives on the line.

As rescue teams and firefighters with excavators searched for survivors, the central television station said two young boys had been pulled alive from the wreckage late on Sunday. There were 1,630 passengers on both trains.

"The task for us now is to clear the debris and also to check for survivors in those areas that we have not gone to," said 35-year-old rescue worker Wang Jun. "Also, we are trying to get the railway line to be operational as soon as possible.”

"There will be many people who think that this is a safety problem caused by high-speed rail itself," said Ministry spokesperson Wang. “However, we have to say that China's high-speed rail technology is up to date and up to standard, and we still have faith in it."

Source: People’s Daily Online
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